March 22nd, 2012
03:45 PM ET

Sanford police chief 'temporarily' steps down

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee said he must "temporarily remove myself" from duty, a day after the City Commission voted 3-2 in favor of a nonbinding measure of no confidence in him.

"My role as the leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation …." Lee said during a news conference.

He added, "I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks."

Lee had come under fire following concerns that his police department did not adequately handle the fatal shooting last month of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Martin was shot February 26 while walking to the house of his father's fiancee after a trip to a convenience store. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader, said he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense.

Following the shooting, thousands of people tweeted out Lee's photo and phone number asking them to flood him with calls because they believed his department had not properly investigated the case. Many of those people believed Zimmerman should have been arrested for the shooting.

"It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process," Lee said.

Zimmerman has not been arrested. Police say they have not charged Zimmerman because they have no evidence to contradict his story that he shot in self-defense, leading to a new debate over a controversial state law.

Florida's deadly force law, also called "stand your ground," allows people to meet "force with force" if they believe that there is danger of serious harm to themselves or someone else.

Lee said he continued to stand by the police department as well as their investigation into Martin's death.

A Seminole County grand jury will convene on the matter April 10, according to State Attorney Norm Wolfinger.

FULL STORY
soundoff (480 Responses)
  1. citizen

    Dont know about Florida law, but part of the problem seems to be that to many people are packing heat these days. In fact several states allow concealed carry with only a drivers license.
    One needs look no further than the UK to see that fewer guns is equivalent to less death by gun.
    What would the worst case scenario have been if no gun were involved?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loyal Northren Democrat

      Knife, bat, pipe, etc.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim D.

      He would have beaten him to death with a billy club instead. Remember Rodney King???

      March 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ison

    So basically, the stand your ground law would allow 2 people to kill each other and no one is at fault? Thanks Jeb Bush for turning people back 200 years!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sirned

    Gotta love Florida.... You need food you have to get drug tested. You shoot a kid and you don't get drug tested....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      exactly.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sandy Borrego

    Gary- I guess you have not been keeping up to date with this case. The makers of this law(stand your ground) said that this case does not apply to stand your ground because Z was the aggressor, in other words he followed him. So his little self defense plea does not apply.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Angel

    This situation isn't a black/white thing. This is a child that was killed in cold blood. This child could have been your brother, son, cousin, etc. Zimmerman is a want to be cop, if I were Trayvon I would have ran too. If he was "in charge" of his neighborhood watch why didn't he just ask the boy what he was doing if he felt "threatened". First I've heard of "hunting" someone down and a "threat". I heard last last Zimmerman is in hiding, if he's such a big man and thought what he did was right why is he in hiding today? Let alone the size of Zimmerman, if he felt Trayvon was a threat he looks to weigh a lot more than Trayvan, call the real police and sit on him until they get there, why shoot to kill him! That poor kid was screaming for someone ANYONE to help him, he was shot once in the chest, for what cause fat man Zimmerman was threatened. Right.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      Yup. Zim was 100 lbs heavier than Trayvon.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorEaster TC6

      The situation is a black and white thing its whites who are killing unarmed blacks; For all law abiding black Americans protect your self at all cost!!

      March 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorEaster TC6

      The situation is a black and white thing its whites who are killing unarmed blacks; black Americans protect your self at all cost!!

      March 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tony

    A higher power has to open a investigation on the charge of murder, under the guidelines of Florida law the sheriff acted by the letter. It is sad that this happened, but why turn it into a racial issue thats just stupid. An idiot can be any color , i've seen my share of them all .

    March 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Loyal Northren Democrat

    The kid could not have been running away fast as he was holding his pants up with one hand. Of course he was wearing the new Nikes that were stolen from the mall during the last riot he was in.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      Your name is the opposite of what you are.
      And its misspelled.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Thomassi

    Why he has the audacity from say temporary step down permanently. This police chief should also be indicted for accessory to murder by trying to evade or hide the truth of the killing.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Truthwillsetyoufree

    While he's gone maybe he'll consider suicide...

    March 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Logic

    This is a sad case. Regardless of what Zimmerman's reasons were, a mother has lost her son. I hope that he can rest in peace soon.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sirned

    Great for gun sales right NRA? Bringing us back to the wild wild west with crazy laws like this to make more of us arm our selves. We can only hope we will shoot first and arm our 10 year olds too....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • tony

      There is nothing wrong with having weapons its how you use them . Its a whole lot easier to hunt food with a firearm than a rock.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RillyKewl

    Let this be the first sign of justice in this horror.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TKK45

    Obviously Mr. Zimmerman was the agressor as he was told by police not to pursue. Mr. Zimmerman did not observe any laws being broken, he acted in his own mind that a law was bring broke. No law was being broke, Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of a false report and making up any law was being broken and positioning himself to be the victim so he could position himself in the publics eye as a protector of society. He will be arrested and convicted, not because you protest but because the people enforcing the law are doing their jobs.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sonja

    This is NOT good enough. This man should be FIRED and striipped of any and all pension and retirment. Why should he be able to step down and still collect pay? Imagine the henious crimes that this man has committed with his own authrity that we don't even know about. White Amercia should be shameful....simply DISGUSTING!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      agreed.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim D.

      Either you're an idiot or your reading comprehension needs work. Why should this guy be fired? He did not employ Zimmerman nor did he conduct the investigation. Zimmerman should be removed from the Neighborhood Watch program and those Detectives who DID handle the case should be reprimanded but the Chief is only doing the honorable thing which was at the request of Martin's family.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Logic

    "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."

    Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen, for God speaks in the silence of the heart.

    Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting.

    Always have a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well.

    I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Ask yourself “How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?” Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery.

    A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.

    Mother Teresa –

    March 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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